my son is 5 months old, im taking the babys father to court for child support and sole custody, we went to court and he ordered a DNA test, that came back that he is the father, which i already new. my son has my last name and his father doesnt think he has to pay child support because of that. we go back this month. he is now saying he wants joint custody, i know that he will probably get joint legal custody, but what are the chances of him getting joint physcial custody too? i have marked down every time that he has come to see his son and its a total of 11 times and the most 2 hours. my son started crying while he was holding him and he did nothing but sit there and look at him! he has changed his diaper once, has never fed him, has never given him a bath, never asked to do any of those things. i want to get it so he has visitation but i do not want overnights yet, i've read that alot of states don't allow overnights untill 2 or 3. i am exclusivly breastfeeding and i've heard that the judges will not care that i am breastfeeding. so i guess i am wondering what happens with child custody. i am just really worried about overnights. so anyone with experience in this please help
I could type out 12 paragraphs about my experience, but I'd just get jumped on again. Google "Liz Baldwin LLL attorney" and read her articles about breastfeeding and custody and look up my past posts. If you have any questions, PM me.
What state? That will have an impact on the information given to you. Some states do not take bfing into consideration when it comes to a parenting plan, but they will order the father to feed ebm (expressed breastmilk) over formula.
In NJ, at least 8 years ago when I was going through a divorce, overnights typically start at 2 years of age. Some states won't do overnights in the first year. Some states will only take bfing into consideration for the first year.
Document the time that he spends with your baby. To be honest, 11 times in 5 months isn't that bad. Probably should be more frequent (but 2-4 hours) than it is now. But you can't make him visit.
Oh, and if you have left your baby overnight with anyone without you there, you will definitely lose the argument of no overnights for the first 1-2 years.
Are things at all amicable with you two? You might do better off trying to hammer out a long-term visitation goal plan with him than through attorneys and a judge. My state requires mediation in miscellaneous cases(non divorce cases) before you are allowed to go before a judge. My daughter's father and I worked it out in mediation with a 3rd party mediator present and never saw a judge. If you say to the baby's father that you are worried about overnights because of breastfeeding and such but you are willing to provide copious shorter visitation times and then move to longer, less frequent visitation times as the baby gets older(provide a timeline of visits acceptable to yo u), maybe he would be more amenable to that. You won't get overnights pushed back to 2-3 probably but you may get until 1 or 18months MAYBE if you work it out with the dad. My kids are older now but they've been seeing their dad Tues and Thurs nights from 4-8 and a full day over the weekend for the last several years now. It's working great. We each see them every other day. It's not joint physical but it's pretty ample visitation and they have a great relationship with dad. He's very involved in their lives. Even when my youngest was a babe, we did the Tues/Thurs visit plus a few hours on the weekend and I provided pumped bottles. I believe we did our first overnight just before her second birthday and she was still nursing but was great to co-sleep with dad instead of mom and nursing wasn't an issue. By that point she was used to her bottles of pumped milk and as long as she was snuggled at night, she wasn't unhappy. I thought it would be more traumatic than it was. I was a wreck but she did great.
we went to court and he ordered a DNA test, that came back that he is the father
While you take the DNA test as an insult, it's a wise choice since signing documents that he's the father is legally binding and can't be reversed even if DNA evidence later shows he's not the father.
my son has my last name and his father doesnt think he has to pay child support because of that.
Names have nothing to do with child support, custody, or anything. Being a legal parent (biological parents by default) does. He'll have to get over this detail.
my son started crying while he was holding him and he did nothing but sit there and look at him
Parenting skills and parenting choices aren't generally a reason to deny or limit parenting time. If it were, we wouldn't be able to take our own babies home from the hospital (who has experience giving baths until they have a baby home to give a bath to? Should there be a compulsory exam given at the hospital to determine if the parent has enough baby soothing skills?). A judge is going to assume that, given more time with the child without you hovering over them, his father will learn these skills just as you did.
im taking the babys father to court for child support and sole custody ... he is now saying he wants joint custody
Can't have your cake and eat it too. It is generally feasible to be left alone if you leave the other parent alone as well. That is, if you can support the child on your own (no government aid) you might be able to get away without having to involve dad. But if you want his $$ he's apt to ask for involvement. And a court is going to give it to him absent a compelling reason to withhold time with the child.
Whether overnights might be ordered depends entirely on your state. My state would order it and doesn't give a crap about breastfeeding. In other states they won't order overnights until the child is older. If you're in a state that would order it, the fact that other states don't won't matter for your case.
As a PP mentioned, you are better off working with him rather than beating him over the head with court proceedings. This is especially true if your state can order overnights for infants and you don't want that, but I can say from experience that being able to negotiate feels much better than having a judge who spent 15 minutes listening to your case decide how your family will live the next 18 years. Your child's father may or may not have a genuine interest in spending time with the child (though 11 visits in the past 5 months tells me he has an interest--you think it's not much, but a loving and interested father may find the prospect of having to go through an ex to see their child as intimidating and assume "she's just going to say no" or that he doesn't know what to do with a 5 month old. These factors don't make him a bad dad) but even someone who has no interest is going to think "if I have to pay for it, I might as well get to spend time with my kid," or retaliate by making you "pay" in your own way.
If you end up in court anyway, the attitude you portray can get you what you want or cost you what you most don't want to lose. Judges are keen on false portrayals of cooperation ("I am so cooperative and always offer time but he never wants to see our child") and insufficient reasons to limit parenting time like "my baby can't possibly go without me because I'm breastfeeding!." If you present your case as trying to problem-solve--for example, requesting short but frequent visits for which you will provide expressed breastmilk demonstrates you're actually trying to cooperate. Cooperation will help you avoid a judge ordering compensatory time. My DH's ex tried to claim she was cooperating and that DH was a deadbeat and shouldn't get any time with their daughter (nevermind the reams of documentation he had showing otherwise) but now DSD lives with us almost every day that she doesn't have school--including the entire summer. Cooperation will get you a long way in court but trying to work it out with your ex might get you even further.
If you want your child to eventually have overnights with his father, or if you think it's an eventuality that it will be required of you, it may be a wise choice to make sure they spend significant time together now to reduce separation trauma later. "He's never spent the night with his father" won't be a sufficient reason to not order overnights when he's older.
At the end of the day, I don't envy your situation. I don't have to split time with my baby and am grateful for that. No matter how it turns out, what justmama said--I was a wreck but she did great. --is worth holding on to. It will be hard for you but your child is doing something that is entirely natural: spending time with both parents. Make it positive and keep yourself busy while he is away, whether it's doing housework or meeting with friends, and you'll be fine too. Or, who knows, maybe the novelty of spending time with his son will wear off and you'll get what you want in the end.
(DSD 10yo) (29wks - 2/2012) (1/2013)